Buccaneer boys golf coach Travis Armstrong can hardly wait for this year's golf season to begin.
And, who can blame him? He has a bunch of returning young golfers who were just starting to show their power last season, and are back to tackle the links and the competition this year.
Armstrong has 17 boys out for golf this year, from grades seven to 12.
The Blue Earth Area boys golf team begins its 2017 season on April 10. In the front, from left to right, are Braden Gudahl, Max Ehrich, Ben Johnson, Donavon Weerts and Jacob Beelers. In the back, from left to right, are Hunter Spencer, Tate Thielfoldt, Eric Becker, Manning Lane, Kohl Jacobsen and Gaven Bruellman. Not pictured are Liam Holland, Ben Backstrom and Caleb Beeler.
And, while there are only two seniors and no juniors at all the Buc coach is not worried, as his younger players are capable of stepping up because they come with both skills and varsity experience.
"We had a few players from last year who did not come out this year, for one reason or another, and that is fine," Armstrong says. "But most of our core group of varsity golfers is back and ready to play."
The coach says there is so much talent on the team that he plans to have playoffs on Friday, March 31, in order to determine who his top six varsity players will be.
Who are these golfers?
Liam Holland and Ben Backstrom are the two seniors.
Tate Thielfoldt, Eric Becker and Hunter Spencer are the sophomores.
Jacob Beeler, Caleb Beeler, Kohl Jacobson, Ben Johnson and Gaven Bruellman are the freshmen.
Eighth graders are Manning Lane, Braden Gudahl, Max Ehrich and Donavon Weerts, with the seventh graders being Nate Murphy, Blake Ripley and Nick Lawrence.
Spencer, Gudahl, Bruellman and Lane are four returning varsity players that Armstrong figures should anchor this year's team.
Bruellman just missed a State Meet bid by three strokes last year, and Lane was four strokes off the cut.
Jacobsen and Thielfoldt also had some varsity experience last year as well.
"But, we will use the playoffs to really see who is going to step up and be our lead horses this year," Armstrong says. "And see who put in the time on the course last year."
The Bucs had a very good season last year and that translates into some pretty high hopes for this year.
"We were lucky enough to win our half of the Big South Conference last year," Armstrong says. "Part of that was the fact we had a lot of conference meets against the 'good' teams on our home course and this year we won't, we will travel to places like St. Peter and Waseca."
The Bucs also place third in the Section Meet last year. With only the top team advancing to State, the Section title is always a goal. And, the Buc mentor has a goal of sending several players to State either as a whole team or as individuals.
The Section Meet is again at the New Prague Golf Course. Jordan and Albert Lea were the top two teams at the Section Meet last year, with the Bucs in third.
And while they know a State bid is not an automatic thing, especially in the game of golf, the Bucs do have a new tournament they will play in this season when they travel to play at The Ridges at Jordan in April which just happens to be the site of the State Golf Meet.
They also have a new opponent, Truman, on the schedule this year, and will play them at the Rose Lake Golf Course.
But before they can make any plans, the Bucs have their regular season, which starts April 10, when BEA hosts Maple River at the Riverside Town & Country Club.
"We will have a lot of our meets this year with the girls and boys teams on the same course," Armstrong says, which is a little different than previous years. "If I have 12 boys on the course, and Carol (Weerts, girls coach) has 12 girls, it should work out. That would be 48 golfers. Some of the schools we play have the same coach for boys and girls, so it is difficult for them to be at two different courses."
The boys will also have a C-team playing in separate meets. They are coached by Gary Holmseth, who is the seventh grade coach. However, with only three seventh graders out, the team will be composed of more than just seventh graders.
As is usual, the golfers can't wait to get on the course, and they and their coach hope the spring weather will hold so they can do just that.
"I look for us to have a good season, and we should be in contention in most of our meets, if we play to our ability," Armstrong says. "I am excited to work with these guys and it is a lot of fun to watch them as they mature."